To what extent a son would care for his old man, slowly falling into mental deterioration, and who as a father was a rather horrific individual? In this movie that marks his directorial debut, Viggo Mortensen plays the role of a son—John Peterson—who is receiving in his California house the visit of his father, Willis (Lance Henriksen). The old man is visiting because he has to undergo some medical tests. John, an airline pilot, who also happens to be gay, lives with his husband Eric (Terry Chen). From the very beginning, we could see that these circumstances don’t go well with the father, still attached to old macho values shaped in his rural life.
The movie alternates between the present (in fact Obama’s times) and John’s childhood, when his father introduced him to hunting and when he and his sister left with their mother, after the couple separated. As a father (played by Sverrir Gudnason) Willis certainly had other expectations about his son. The sexual orientation of the latter was only hinted at the time.
Most of the movie is focused on the adult relation of father and son, with Willis making it very difficult for John to help him. After a doctor examination of his prostate (David Cronenberg makes a cameo as the proctologist), Willis would fall into an even more aggressive behaviour toward his son. John definitely displays a great deal of patience.
“Falling” provides an incisive insight into a complex psychological question. What kind of relationship can exist between a son, victimized by his father, and the man that caused all that suffering, who has now become vulnerable?
I recommend this movie for solid acting, especially by Mortensen and Henriksen. It may also provide a great deal of material for thought and discussion on the father-son relationship’s perennial issue.
Available on VoD services since February 5 – Running Time: 112 min